Electrical safety has always been something to be on top of as a landlord or a property manager. As a result, it is vital you know about what regulations are in place at the moment so you can plan accordingly.
You don’t want to be in the position where an electrical installation sneaks up on you and leaves your property with a large bill or worse yet a legal case where you haven’t provided the right safety for a tenant.
So, read on as in this article we will be going over exactly what the up to date 2023 rules are and how you, as a landlord can be prepared and avoid costly mistakes in the future.
What is included in the new electrical safety rules?
New electrical safety rules include regulations to help the safety of tenants in a property. Additions to the regulation in 2020 include:
Landlords must have the electrical systems in their properties examined every 5 years by a skilled and competent person in order to fulfil the national criteria for electrical safety outlined in the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations.
During the inspection, landlords must save a copy of the report and establish a date for a subsequent test and landlords must deliver a copy of the report to existing renters within 28 days of the test date.
The report must also be provided to new tenants before they occupy the property, and it must be provided to prospective tenants within 28 days of their request or this a breach of the agreement.
If a local government demands a copy of the report, landlords must provide it within seven days and if a local government demands a copy of the report, landlords must provide it within seven days too.
Furthermore, if the report recommends corrective actions, landlords must carry them out within 28 days, or as specified by the electrician in the EICR and written confirmation must be sent to both the tenant and the local authorities.
Following these guidelines will assist you in ensuring that your properties are safe and up to code, protecting both your tenants and your business.
Currently, there are no rules around PAT testing which stands for Portable Appliance Testing and is an additional test that landlords can do to the individual smaller equipment in their home.
However, this is only tur in England and Wales as in Scotland, PAT testing is required, so be careful about not allowing a landlord to add these
When did the regulations come into force?
Electrical safety rules were changed in the private rental sector in 2020 that stated some changes that had to be obeyed by the start of April 2021. So, by 2023, there is no excuse for landlords not to be abiding by these new rules.
If they are found to be housing tenants in a property that isn’t compliant with electrical safety then the local authority can remove their rights as a landlord to evict a tenant and regularly visit the property to ensure they have conducted repairs.
This is also likely to come with a fine or potential prison sentence if conditions are particularly bad and a landlord is putting tenant under a large amount of risk
Why have electrical regulations been introduced?
As the name suggests, the primary reason for the government making changes is to improve the safety of tenants. This applies to both social housing tenants and those in the private rental sector.
Because of recent complaints about tenant rights and the additional changes that are coming to no-fault evictions and EPC regulations, there was an update due that builds on the recent mistakes of the past.
Not only does electrical safety improve over time but electrical technology also improves and there are new devices that require new sets of regulations. For instance, electrical car chargers are a new device in households.
Is a landlord electrical safety certificate a legal requirement?
So, to begin, the most important question is, do you need an electrical inspection report legally under these new rules? The answer is yes as it’s a legal requirement, and if you don’t comply, you could be fined up to £30,000 by local authorities.
This large fee is because the safety of tenants is treated very seriously and it is your job as a landlord to ensure you are fulfilling your responsibilities as a landlord.
For instance, if you have a fire in your home and need to file an insurance claim, all insurers will require a copy of a valid electrical inspection report.
That is, it must be current and marked as satisfactory and if you are unable to produce the report and the fire was caused by an electrical fault, your claim may be rendered invalid.
Does a landlord need permission to enter the property for an electrical check?
Yes, a landlord does have permission to enter a property during an electrical heck, as long as they give the correct notice. For instance, they have to issue a notice that they are going to enter the property at least 24 hours in advance.
In order to make sure that the electrical rules are up to date, they would have to issue this notice but they would only need to do it every five years.
So, if a landlord implemented the new electrical safety rules in 2020, they will not need to enter the property again until 2025. However, be careful as you have to enter the property to do a gas safety check or issue an energy performance certificate.
Where a landlord needs to enter the property to do a gas safety check every year and issue an EPC every ten years. But regulations around Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) are also changing.
What are the financial penalties for having unsafe electronics?
If you don’t have safe electronics in a home, the local government may issue a notice of intent to levy a financial penalty. The local council determines the penalty amount, which cannot exceed £30,000.
Having said this, the fine, if at all, will vary quite a bit depending on the local authority in question.
What else should you be aware of concerning these new rules?
Because of the range of different scenarios in property, there are some questions you should know the answer to if you are learning about these new electrical safety regulations for the first time. Read on below.
How do the new rules apply to HMOs
A property is classed as a HMO if it is housing at least three people in the same property who all form a household. They would then share other facilities in the house such as the kitchen or the living area.
For the tenants living inside these types of properties where it is their primary residence, then the new electrical safety rules in 2020 apply to them.
These new electrical safety regulations mean that all installations that use electrical appliances in a HMO are working and safe through inspection every five years.
This electrical safety is not the responsibility of the tenant but the responsibility of the landlord and the landlord should also look at if they need a HMO licence here based on their location which will also impact electrical safety. Also the registered competent person website is a great place to find a professional.
How do the new rules apply to property inspections?
As expected, in order to stay on top of electrical safety, it is necessary to find a qualified person who is able to carry out the inspections.
It is useful to understand that a landlord may find use in looking at the electrical safety roundtable to find a qualified professional to do the new electrical safety regulations in their property.
When a suitable professional is found, the parts of a home that will be tested include the wiring and the socket outlets as well as the fuse box and the lighting devices in the property.
In addition, it is the job of the landlord to inform the electrician if they have added any other types of devices such as an electrical shower or a car charger.
These devices should have their own electrical safety certificate anyway but a conclusive test should still be done every five years to make sure everything in the property is working well and there are no circuits that are compromised or overloaded.
How do the new regulations apply to remedial works?
It is critical to take action after receiving a report that shows the need for corrective work or additional research. Landlords have 28 days to execute the needed work, however this time frame might be reduced if indicated in the report.
After completing the work, landlords must notify both their tenants and the local authority in writing that the necessary corrective action has been taken within 28 days.
This assurance ensures that everyone understands that the problem has been handled and fixed and it is critical to follow these recommendations in order to maintain excellent relationships with your renters and stay in compliance with local government standards.
The local government may take action if a landlord fails to satisfy one or more of the requirements listed in the rules though. To begin, they must serve a remedial notice on the landlord, outlining the necessary corrective activity.
Then, if the landlord fails to comply with the notification, the local authorities may take the necessary corrective measures. The landlord will subsequently be held accountable for the costs associated with this action.
If the landlord disagrees with the cost demand, they have the right to appeal. Landlords can avoid these repercussions entirely by taking action and complying with the requirements.
What are the types of tenancies that the new regulations apply to?
If a tenant has the right to occupy a property and they are in an Assured Tenancy Shorthold (AST) then the new electrical safety laws published in 2020 apply to the property.
Other agreements like lodger agreements that are more relaxed do not follow these regulations but there are still basic safety requirements for the property that a landlord can receive a fine for.
So, to stay on the safe side, it is recommended that the electrical safety laws are followed on matter what type of tenancy you have as they are deemed the safest regulations so it is a good guide to follow.
What if a tenant doesn’t let you into a property to conduct new regulations?
If there are any remedial works on a property but the tenant isn’t allowing the landlord or a professional working on behalf of the landlord into the premises to conduct repairs, then a landlord isn;t in breach of the agreement.
However, it is important for the landlord to show that they have taken sufficient steps to show they are communicating with the tenant effectively to gain access.
This may include keeping documentation of their communication by text email of phone calls with the tenant and the electricians they are working with.
If a tenant tries to bring this up in the future, then it would prove very useful for a landlord to have this information at hand.
Wrapping things up
Looking at the new regulations, they compel landlords to have their electrical systems inspected by a professional and competent person every five years and to send a copy of the report to both current and prospective tenants within 28 days.
On top of this, if corrective steps are indicated to be done in the property, landlords must implement them within 28 days and provide written proof to both the tenant and the local authorities.
Landlords had until 2021 to comply with the restrictions, which went into effect in 2020 so by now, all landlords should be abiding by the regulations if they want to stay on the right side of the law.
However, it is important to note that local authorities will issue fines and enforce punishments that are up to their discretion so it may not be the case that you will always be charged.